Is Inflammation Helpful or Harmful?

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Inflammation is the 2013 buzz word of the year (okay, that’s my interpretation!)  Some catchphrases in the world of nutrition come and go (remember “fat-free” of the 80’s?) but if you haven’t heard of the word inflammation yet, it’s about time to listen up.

What is Inflammation?

We usually think of inflammation when we are talking about our kids skinned knee or, like I did the other night, burned my hand on a hot pan I pulled out of the oven.  It hurts, it turns red and swollen and your body goes to work to heal the wound.  This is acute inflammation in action and it is extremely helpful for knowing you are hurt and for healing.

On the other side of the coin is chronic inflammation, the silent, insidious result of  our lifestyles choices we make everyday.  The foods we eat, the chemicals we are exposed to and even the stress we feel everyday can lead to chronic inflammation.  You don’t feel this type of inflammation.  Yet, it could be the direct result of ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, obesity, autoimmune diseases, and food allergies.  While we can’t avoid feeling the pain and swelling of a broken leg, we want to try to reduce our exposure to factors that lead to chronic inflammation.

How To Reduce Chronic Inflammation

Here are three easy ways you can start to reduce chronic inflammation in our bodies starting today.kale

Eat Foods That Are Anti-Inflammatory. Stack your diet high with:

  • colorful fruits and vegetables (especially leafy greens, berries and winter squash)
  • whole grains (such as brown rice, quinoa, millet and/or oatmeal for breakfast. Want more ideas? Click here.)
  • fats and oils high in omega-3’s (salmon, sardines, flax seeds, chia seeds, avocado, almonds, walnuts)

And be sure to lose these foods:

  • junk food and highly processed foods, soda (including diet) high-fat meats, sugar, artificial sweeteners and refined white flours.  These foods are stripped of nutrients and tax your body by adding unwanted chemicals and foods that are foreign to our bodies and hard to digest.

Make Sleep a Priority

  • The importance of sleep can’t be stressed enough.  It helps our bodies repair and renew, lowers our propensity for sugar and mindless snacking and helps lower stress in our bodies (i.e. chronic inflammation).  Click here to read more about the importance of getting at least 8 hours of sleep here.

Eat Organicgreenfood

  • I wrote about the benefits and the controversy over eating organic (click here to see that post).  Eating organic foods doesn’t necessarily make your food more nutritious, but it does reduce your exposure to pesticides and other chemicals – both which have been linked to chronic inflammation.
  • If going totally organic isn’t an option for you, I recommend switching out the things you eat a lot of: milk, poultry, whole grains, certain fruits and vegetables for example.  Click here to see a list of the fruits and vegetables that are highest and lowest in pesticides.

The subject of chronic inflammation is something you will be hearing about as more research emerges.  Reducing stress, losing weight and exercising are other ways to reduce chronic inflammation in our bodies and thus reduce our risk for many diseases. Now I want to hear from you.  Are you familiar with chronic inflammation and the role of diet, chemicals and stress in chronic disease?  Leave a comment in the space below, let’s keep the conversation going!

 

 

 

 

3 comments to " Is Inflammation Helpful or Harmful? "

  • You are so right…we never think about chronic inflammation, yet you know that even as careful as we try to be we still will have some exposure to things that can cause it. Do you have any recipes that are particularly good for helping inflammation??

    • Heather Carey

      Hi Amanda! Exposure to chemicals and stress are hard to avoid sometimes but we can do our best with food. I would say that any of my recipes would be considered anti-inflammatory, you can see them all on the recipe tab to the right of this page!

  • Thank you so much for the info! I do a smoothie of leafy greens each morning, but I know I need more sleep!

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